Clans in a Role playing World
by Sanvean and Krrx
Lately, I have been contemplating how clans fit into role playing
getting players acclimated to the mud and helping them survive in that
environment. The following conversation takes place between myself and a
staff member of Armageddon mud who revamped a defunct clan, the T'zai Byn,
and transformed it into an active and well-loved clan. The Byn is perhaps
one of the best clans for new players, as well as an experience praised by
the vast majority of its participants. (This is the first of three musings
on the nature of clans, and what being in/running one means to a
player/immortal, with the second discussing a cultural clan, where players
begin the game having been born into the clan, and the third outlining some
conclusions and problems with clans on role playing muds.)
Scrymgeour clan tartan.
Sanvean: First off, why were you interested in reviving the Byn, and what
sort of clan did you want it to be?
Krrx: Probably the key thing is that I have a passion for the concept. It
started when I played in the T'zai Byn a few years ago. I enjoyed playing in
a fighting unit where you and your comrades faced death regularly, and had
to work together to survive. While I have had very enjoyable times in other
clans, I would still rate the Byn as the highlight.
Sanvean: What was the first step in getting them restarted?
Krrx: I outlined what the clan would be--what role and 'flavor' it would
have. Of course, this was all documented. As the concept developed, the
documentation changed. The documents today are quite different from how they
were at first. I had ideas about what I wanted the clan to be like, but they
didn't 'fit in' as well as they could have with the game world. Nessalin had
a big influence on how the clan turned out. The Byn are a lot more low class
than I first planned, and the documents reflect that.
Sanvean: How did Nessalin change your intentions?
Krrx: My original vision was of an elite mercenary unit, with a lot of 'high
class' things. Nessalin encouraged me towards a low class, gritty,
down-and-dirty vision of the clan, which fit in better with Armageddon's
Sanvean: As I recall, you were worried at first that they would not take off.
Krrx: Yes. When restarting the clan, it struck me that to achieve its goals
effectively, the clan would have to have strict rules, and that people might
not be able to handle it. One example is the regulation where members are
not allowed into the 'rinth, and are not allowed to leave Allanak unless
certain criteria are met. The 'rinth and the wilderness are two areas where
a lot of new player characters die, because they insist on wandering in dangerous places
alone. It thus makes sense, both in character and out of character, to have rules that limit
going to those places.
Sanvean: Speaking of rules, one of the things you have done very well is
making the Byn self-regulating. Did you plan on that?
Krrx: To an extent, yes. There are two points here. The first is that I have
recruited clan leaders very, very carefully. The second is that because
they are trustworthy players, they will help enforce the rules anyway.
Sanvean: When you are looking for players who will make good player character leaders, what
do you look for, then?
Krrx: The key things I look for are: (1) out of character trustworthiness, (2) a very
high standard of role playing, and (3) regular playing. Of course, it must
be appropriate in character that the player character move into leadership. I can elaborate on
those points if you like.
Sanvean: Please do!
Krrx: First, out of character trustworthiness. I have put a lot of work into this clan, and
I will not put in leadership anyone who does not respect the work I put in,
and is not willing to do likewise themselves. Another reason for this
criterion is because I am not on-line 24 hours a day. If something happens, I
need an honest, trustworthy viewpoint to rely on.
Sanvean: How do you know you can trust them?
Krrx: Trust is not something that can be guaranteed, but I do my best to
screen players. I look at past player characters that the player has played. I chat to
other staff members about them, particularly if the player played a player character in
their clan. If someone is trustworthy, they tend to show it in the way they
play the game.
Onto the second point--a very high standard of role playing. Armageddon is a role play
intensive mud, with a very high overall standard of role playing. While many players
entering the clan do not have this standard, it is a requirement for
leadership. If people see leaders role playing well, they will tend to do likewise.
Sanvean: Good role playing seems to mean different things to different people. What is
Krrx: Good role playing? Thinking and acting in character. Immersing yourself in the role of
your player character, and not just playing it like a robot in some shoot-em-up.
Onto the third point--regular playing. This does not mean leaders have to
play Armageddon for 6 hours every day. I do, however, expect them to appear in the
game fairly regularly. You can not lead if you are not around to lead. Common
To sum up, one theme is that I have set limitations on the clan, with the idea
that playing within those limitations actually gives players more freedom.
It is why we have the law in real life. The law prevents idiots from ruining
life for the rest of us. At face value, the law seems restrictive--you are
not allowed to drive if you have drunk too much alcohol, for instance. But
it is restrictive because: (1) it is logical and sensible, and (2) it protects
the greater good--people generally do not like to get killed by drunk
March 2000 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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